Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-14-2022 11:37 AM
    Hey all, Im just starting out in Engineering school and Ive been tasked with talking to Engineers about what they recommend for being successful in an Engineering program. What your thoughts are on group study and whats the best study skill you learned? This could also pertain to the PE exam, how did you all prep for it? Im in my first semester online and it feels hard to be apart of communities from afar so im glad I found this site!

    thanks a million for reading and answering if you feel called.

    Samantha Strauss S.M.ASCE
    Wendell MA

  • 2.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-14-2022 06:33 PM

    Hi Samantha Strauss! 

    A lot in Civil Engineering graduation is personalized by the student. Because Civil Engineering has many Areas to specialize. You will be wherever you want!

    So I would like to share this external link with you, it can helps as well :)  


    . . . . .

    Lifelong learning is a better approach to improve your skills and experience in the knowledge economy

    Einstein was a massive advocate of self-learning. He learned from smart minds on his own and engineered his own learning and working life. He learned a lot from solving and proving theories on his own. 

    "I played hooky a lot and studied the masters of theoretical physics with a holy zeal at home." He said. Einstein "discovered his own original proof of the Pythagorean theorem at age 12."

    Successful people continue to learn even after formal education. It's a better approach to expand your knowledge and acquire new skills faster, especially if you enjoy the process.

    Einstein once wrote to his son about enjoying what you learn and said, "…play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don't notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal…."

    Cultivating the love for learning makes the process enjoyable.  

    . . . . .

    Andre Newinski S.E., A.M.ASCE
    Engenheiro Estrutural
    Santo Angelo

  • 3.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-15-2022 03:52 PM
    Thanks so much Andre. I appreciate the quotes, and I agree that the learning opportunities at home are much more profound. I will definitely be reading that article.

    Samantha Strauss S.M.ASCE
    Wendell, MA

  • 4.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-15-2022 03:52 PM
    In my opinion, learning how to find and where to find information needed to get your work done. Being able to convert or relate aspects of the assignments into real world scenarios. 

    When it comes to group study, it depends on your method of learning. As an engineer, there will always be someone to work with or for. However, when you are in school you have to be able to discern between working together and working for others. There will be some students that come prepared and progress is rapid and smooth. There are others that will come unprepared and late. They hinder progress because you end up repeating things they missed from the previous assignments. Having to explain to others is helpful in that you find yourself learning as you explain. However, they can also hinder your progress. Learning to allocate a certain amount of time to the group and when to leave group session is important. So either way you are learning skills essential to your profession.

    [Note: There were individuals that would request that we get together to study for mid-terms and finals. I learned quickly after spending hours going over the earliest of material and not being able to go over the more advanced stuff in chapters. I would stay briefly and then head off to study by myself. ]

    The PE exam use to require that one pass the FE exam and have a certain number of years of experience prior to taking the PE exam. It is my understanding that it is not necessarily the case these days. I loved working  at my own pace, so all I needed was the study material/book. Self-study allowed me to choose desired areas of focus and how long I studied that material. If someone is challenged by planning, then I recommend taking a review class geared towards passing the exam (FE or PE).

    I have never taken an online class with a group. I have been part of online seminars and it is different from having everyone in the room. 

    Is this your first semester as an undergrad or are you in grad school?

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA

  • 5.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-15-2022 03:52 PM
    That's a great question, Samantha. It deserves a book-length answer.
    On the whole, I didn't find group study to be the most effective for me. One advantage is that you learn by explaining things out loud to others. Another is that when you hit a snag, someone in the group may be able to help you get past it. The disadvantages are that too many study sessions devolve into bull sessions, group-think may cause everyone to misunderstand, and the group can only go as fast as the slowest member. I found it better to study alone and have a couple of smart(er) classmates to call on when I had a problem.
    Some people say just listening helps them more than making lecture notes. It didn't work for me. I also noticed that the "listeners" did more poorly than "note-takers" when I taught. I found it helpful to summarize my notes in very neat form before a test. Decades(!) later I still use the summaries when I need something quick in my practice. Look online for tips on how to take lecture notes. 
    My courses were taught with both in-person and remote students. I used the on-line forums as their participation score in grading and it seemed to foster an online camaraderie that worked. My remote students did as well as the in-person ones.
    Good luck with your studies. Persevere!

    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    Columbus MS

  • 6.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-15-2022 03:53 PM

    While I was in college I did the majority of my studying on my own.  I found it to be best for me to try to work through a problems on my own and then go to the professor or peers when I struggled to work them out.  But, I think in the end what helped me to retain and best grasp information from my classes was helping others when they had questions and tutoring for some of the classes that I took.  This simply reinforced my understanding of the topics and required me to be able to explain them in a way to make sense to others.

    Nancy Simpson P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Muscatine Power & Water
    Muscatine IA

  • 7.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-16-2022 11:41 AM

    I was a student who usually had a hard time learning in real-time during class because I was more focused on taking the correct notes. I found that studying with certain friends and classmates was very helpful if I didn't understand a concept, but I also had to study just as much on my own once I understood it in order to be repetitive and really nail it down. Once a concept was explained, I tried to break all problems down into steps and memorize them. Units will always be your friend too. (Knowing what you have (psf) vs what you are looking for (pcf) means you need something else with feet in it.)

    Personally I wouldn't even worry about the PE yet. I did study with a friend for a little bit but mostly I ran through practice problems over and over and over until I understood what I had to do before even finishing reading the question. 

    Experiment a little bit, find what works best for you, and find a group of people who you work well with if you choose to study in a group. This will take some time to figure out and may change class per class. People will always want to study with you if you can find something of value to bring to the group yourself as well. While I was not good at solving problems, I was always happy to write the lab reports required which was a task most of my classmates disliked. 

    Good luck.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 8.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-19-2022 04:51 PM
    best way to learn is you first need to WANT to learn, motivation is key, if he/she is not motivated, it will just not work, after that, SEEK the knowledge via reading, study groups, humility, trial and error, work in teams, etc etc.

    Humberto Gallegos Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    California Baptist University
    Riverside CA

  • 9.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 09-22-2022 02:17 PM
    In my view, you first set your target and your understanding level. And group studies helps a lot especially when there are certain topics or courses you don't really understand which the study member(s) who probably understands better could help....It also makes you opened when you are able to teach others

    Felix Jampana S.M.ASCE

  • 10.  RE: Best ways to learn new material

    Posted 12-04-2022 12:22 PM
    Hello Samantha,

    I seem to be both late to this party, and early for the next one.

    Although studying in a group has helped me get through homework problems that I was stuck on, it was important to me to do the work first. When I was still getting my Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering, it could be complicated to organize a team meeting to focus on all the problems. So first, I went through all the problems I could myself, so that when we met, we could focus on what we were having trouble on.

    Also, since the semester is coming to a close, you should have a record of everyone you have met and studied with in your classes. That way, you can find them in future semesters, and continue studying with them if they made good partners.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH